A number of Salesforce AppExchange partners including Apttus, Kenandy and ServiceMax formed an alliance called the Force United Consortium back in April but I hadn’t had the chance to talk to anyone about it. It’s a cool idea and a way to differentiate a partner that makes good use of the Salesforce1 Platform. I got more information at Dreamforce and discovered that this is not some marketing idea with little substance but a way to demonstrate value to customers that emanates from the platform and the applications built natively on it.
To be sure there are many good applications on the AppExchange and many are 100 percent native, but not all are. Being 100 percent gives a vendor an easier time of ramping up a customer so that adoption is easier and customers have a better time solving complex business challenges.
But there’s more. Being native like this gives members an easier time of building integrated business process support so there’s little worry about data or process hand-offs — things just work. That would be all there is to say about it if it wasn’t also for the fact that apps don’t live in a vacuum, their purpose is to enable end to end business processes. That enablement has always been something of a dream because few, if any, vendors could string together all the software support needed. Somewhere along the way the highway turns into a dirt road and, if you are lucky, it reverts, but not always.
But with the platform approach disparate vendors can do what they are good at and leave the process integration to almost no one, and I say this with tongue in cheek because no body is just about what’s needed. The integration becomes more one of process than of applications and data.
A small aside here. As I recall, for many years this has been one of those things I’ve written about from time to time usually under the moniker of best of breed or process integration, or something else. But now it looks like the vendor community is catching on. Joy!
To be honest, I don’t know what Apttus (CPQ), Kenandy (ERP), and ServiceMax (field service automation) have to do in a unified process, seems like they’re pretty far apart but that’s not the point. All three products already integrate well with Salesforce CRM to extend the functionality and processing of that tool in predictable ways. Nevertheless, this is an important start. With Salesforce, Kenandy, and maybe IntAcct or FinancialForce you have the makings of a complete front and back office suite. Add Apttus and selling becomes more robust. And if you have a product company that rolls trucks daily for deliveries or service then ServiceMax might become integral as well. This kind of reminds me of the Kevin Bacon Game back at the dawn of social networking. Look what that did.
(Cross-posted @ Beagle Research, LLC)